ROME — Looking to revise his clay-court game ahead of Roland Garros, Kei Nishikori defeated Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (5), 6-4 Monday in the first round of the Italian Open.
It was Nishikori’s first victory since reaching the final of the Monte Carlo Masters last month. In his previous two matches, Nishikori retired against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Barcelona and lost to Novak Djokovic in Madrid.
Nishikori hit only 18 winners to Lopez’s 26 but had fewer unforced errors – 19 to 31.
Lopez argued with the chair umpire after losing a point in which he thought the ball bounced twice before Nishikori hit a half volley.
The 24th-ranked Nishikori will next face third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov.
Also on the red clay of the Foro Italico, 10th-seeded Pablo Carrena Busta beat Jared Donaldson 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.
In women’s action, Johanna Konta defeated 17th-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-3 to improve to 4-0 in her career against the Slovakian; and Petra Martic beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-2 and will next face defending champion Elina Svitolina.
The French Open starts May 27.